manquer un bras et une jambe

English translation: he felt as if he were missing an arm and a leg

21:52 Nov 24, 2018
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / codes
French term or phrase: manquer un bras et une jambe
Sans Anna, la vie n’avait plus de sens ni de goût. Dan sentait son corps mais il lui manquait un bras et une jambe, une partie du cœur aussi.

science fiction/fantasy Parisian French
is it literal or an expression? Must be idiomatic expression, I think
Frank Gerace
United States
Local time: 17:19
English translation:he felt as if he were missing an arm and a leg
Explanation:
I think that the literal works quite well in this case, because he goes on to talk about how a piece of his heart was missing, too.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 8 mins (2018-11-24 22:00:50 GMT)
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"take a little piece of my heart"-the late Janis Joplin

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Note added at 3 hrs (2018-11-25 01:14:02 GMT)
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Or "it seemed as if he were missing..." to avoid repetition (he could feel his body..."
Selected response from:

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 17:19
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +5he was missing an arm and a leg
Maria Iglesia Ramos
4 +2he felt as if he were missing an arm and a leg
Barbara Cochran, MFA
4 +1it was missing an arm and a leg
Eliza Hall
4he was missing an arm, a leg and ...
B D Finch


Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +5
he was missing an arm and a leg


Explanation:
This is first thing that came to mind. I hope it helps.

Maria Iglesia Ramos
Spain
Local time: 23:19
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  David Hollywood: ok too but prefer the subjunctive "were" in this case... not such a big deal in English usually but here I would go with "were"
1 hr
  -> Thank you so much David.

agree  philgoddard: The subjunctive wouldn't make sense.
9 hrs
  -> Thank you philgoddar!

agree  katsy
12 hrs
  -> Thank you Katsy!

agree  writeaway: oeuf corse. whatever else could it be?
13 hrs
  -> Thank you Writeaway!

neutral  Barbara Cochran, MFA: Without more context, it would seem that he wasn't actually missing and arm and a leg, in the literal sense.
15 hrs
  -> Thank you Barbara!

agree  Elisabeth Gootjes: absolutely!
2 days 18 hrs
  -> Thank you so much Elisabeth!
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7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
he felt as if he were missing an arm and a leg


Explanation:
I think that the literal works quite well in this case, because he goes on to talk about how a piece of his heart was missing, too.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 8 mins (2018-11-24 22:00:50 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"take a little piece of my heart"-the late Janis Joplin

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2018-11-25 01:14:02 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Or "it seemed as if he were missing..." to avoid repetition (he could feel his body..."

Barbara Cochran, MFA
United States
Local time: 17:19
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Thomas T. Frost: You could easily say 'part of him was missing without her'; this text just makes it a bit more concrete. Perhaps one could say 'a leg and an arm' to avoid evoking the unrelated idiom 'cost an arm and a leg'.//On second thought, Phil is right.
7 mins

agree  David Hollywood: don't see any reason not to go literal here
1 hr
  -> Thank you, David.

neutral  philgoddard: It doesn't say "he felt as if".
9 hrs

neutral  katsy: agree with Phil. Even if it is not literally true, the author states it as a metaphor not a simile.
12 hrs

neutral  writeaway: agree with phil and katsy. you are embellishing/over-translating. adding elements not present in or suggested by the French original /context is sci-fi
13 hrs
  -> He wasn't actually missing and arm and a leg, in the literal sense, which is what Maria's translation implies./The author is talking about human feelings, not an invasive operation, IMO, unless more context would prove me wrong.

agree  ph-b (X): I agree that the 'feeling' bit is important - it's there at the beginning of the sentence (sentait) and you're definitely not embellishing or over-translating or suggesting something that is not there.
2 days 17 hrs
  -> Thank you very much, ph-b.
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21 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
he was missing an arm, a leg and ...


Explanation:
I think it's important to avoid "he was missing an arm and a leg" because the echo of the expression "it cost him an arm and a leg" could make this unintentionally comic.

B D Finch
France
Local time: 23:19
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 39

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  philgoddard: I don't think there's any risk of confusion.
11 hrs
  -> No risk of confusion, just a risk of reaction to it as comic.
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1 day 20 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
it was missing an arm and a leg


Explanation:
Copying from discussion entry, and adding another comment:

I don't agree that the author omitted the concept of Dan feeling like he was missing some limbs. There's nothing literal there; it's clearly a metaphor.

Dan sentait son corps -- there's the "feeling." IMHO, in colloquial English this would be best translated not by "felt" but by "could feel." Sometimes the French imparfait works better in English as could + verb. As we all know, English and French verb tenses are not the same; for instance, "j'ai vu" could be "I have seen" OR "I saw," and you have to choose the right one based on context and feel. The same is true of the imparfait -- it's not always best translated with the simple past.

il lui manquait -- il manquait AU CORPS (et non pas à Dan). So he could feel his body, but that feeling was of a body that was missing certain parts.

Possible translation: "He could feel his body but it was missing an arm and a leg, and part of the heart as well."

I think that translation stays closest to the original. This turn of phrase (it was missing, not he was missing) favors the interpretation that Dan's "feeling" applies to the whole sentence, so this sense of missing limbs is figurative or imaginary rather than literal. But also, by not saying "it felt like he was missing," it retains the presumably purposeful ambiguity of the original. It also avoids repeating "feels," which of course is not repeated in the original.

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 17:19
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  ph-b (X): Indeed - on seeing the q, I immediately thought of "D. could feel his body but it felt as if he was/were? missing..."
21 hrs
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